Evaluating billfish management strategies

Billfish are highly migratory pelagic species distributed throughout the world. In the Atlantic Ocean, billfish include: sailfish (Istiophorus platytpterus),the-hntrclnfish-2.JPG blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) and white marlin (Tetrapturus albidus). There are multiple user groups that catch billfish and these groups have very different objectives. Billfish occupy the same spatial habitat as tuna resources. As a result, billfish are caught as bycatch in many pelagic longline and purse seine operations. Other user groups, such as recreational and small-scale anglers, directly target billfish. The distinctive size, beauty and spectacular fighting ability make billfish among the most valuable and sought after saltwater sportfishes in the world. Small-scale fisheries in the Caribbean, South Amerthe-hntrclnfish-2.JPGica and West Africa target billfish because they are an important source of protein and have a high commercial value in these communities. Management is further complicated by the highly migratory and transboundary (affecting multiple jurisdictions) nature of billfish.

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Typically assessments focus on the biological aspects of fish stocks, but in the case of billfish, the social and economic effects of management are extremely important to the species’ survival and longevity. My research aims to address the dearth of socioeconomic billfish information. Much of the billfish socioeconomic research has focused on identifying recreational tournament anglers and quantifying their economic expenditures. My research focuses on the recreational and small-scale sectors in the Eastern and Western Atlantic Ocean. Charter boat owners in South Florida and Senegal and small-scale anglers in Venezuela and Ghana were surveyed. The same survey instrument and research methodology were used in all four sites to gather a fishery operation description, catch data, socio-economic data and perceptions of fishery management objectives. The survey provided data for economic and social performance indicators: gross revenue, net revenue, financial profit, economic profit, stakeholder characteristics, gender issues, stakeholder perceptions, governance, traditional knowledge and community services. Ultimately, the data will be used to determine the effects of different management strategies that allocate the Total Allowable Catch to the different sectors.

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This study is the dissertation work of Ayeisha Brinson and is funded by:

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